An Achieve college internship with the office of U.S. Senator Tina Smith was the perfect fit for Julien Halabi. The Hamline University senior (and Edison High School graduate) is double majoring in political science and business management and wants to pursue a career in local government. They seized this opportunity to learn first-hand how things run on the federal level in the senator’s office.
Julien accessed this great career experience through Achieve College Internships, which connects talented, diverse college students with high-quality paid summer internships, professional training, mentors and career networks at local companies and organizations. The program is designed to help young professionals launch their careers and provide opportunities for employers to discover and support new talent.
Julien is a voice for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at Hamline and wants to become an advocate on these issues in local government through a policy or outreach position. They currently serve as a leader of the Hamline chapter of Ignite, an organization that encourages women and non-binary individuals to get into politics and advocacy work.
At Senator Smith’s office, Julien worked with the DEI outreach director. “It was really nice to get projects that pertain to my area of interest,” they said. They also expanded their focus beyond DEI through a major project focusing on a state legislative bill. “I did a final presentation at the end of my college internship on the edible marijuana bill that was before the state house of representatives,” they explained. “I discussed its intersection points with Medicare, Medicaid and veteran benefits and how it can lead to future legislation.”
Julien says it was very helpful to see how federal and local governments intersect up close. “It was interesting to learn about the Minnesota organizations that the senator’s office works with and observe the experiences that constituents were having,” says Julien. “I answered calls from individuals who needed help from local agencies but were having trouble getting their needs met, such as obtaining visas. I took down their information, put it in the system and assigned it to a deputy of state, who then assigned a case worker.”
Minneapolis is home to Julien, whose father immigrated from Beirut and mother is from Paynesville, Minnesota. Julien explains how a central quality of Lebanese culture – generosity – is part of their family’s core values. “We invite people in when they need it, give them a bed and treat them like royalty,” they say. “I’m also a person who gives food and money to homeless people. I often go back to Edison High School to visit the teachers who got me where I am today and help them when they need it.”
Self-described as “curious,” Julien also likes to analyze policy to see what’s missing and how it can be improved. “Business is intertwined with politics, and with political science and business degrees, I can analyze policy from a different lens. For example, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, I was curious about the impact on the stock market, leading me to find that stock prices for baby formula companies had spiked.”
With their double major, Achieve College Internship program experience and student leadership role at Hamline, Julien’s future career is off to a strong start. Looking ahead to graduation, they say they would definitely work in Senator Smith’s office if given a chance.
“But because I believe everything begins in local government, I want to start there,” they say confidently. “I like reaching out to constituents to find out what’s working and what isn’t. Serving my community is very important to me.”